Monce Abraham

Archive for the ‘Strategy’ Category

Hey – Share my Dabba, will you?!

In Branding, Building Culture, Buzz Marketing, CSR, Management, Marketing, Purpose, Strategy on May 11, 2013 at 21:59

 

Back in 2010, seemingly bored with lack of things to like on Facebook (no sarcasm there!) and with restless energy abound, I used to volunteer with non-profits on the weekends. More than a feel-good feeling, there was this sense of working on real problems within constraints and trying to come up with effective solutions which could help make us some headway, regardless of the constraints.

Restlessness was such that one time even when I was working full time with an NGO back in 2010, India Sponsor Foundation (ISF) – a Mother NGO funding grassroot NGOs, I also got ‘volunteering’ (Saturdays) with 1 of the 7 Partner organizations we were then funding. Now when I look back at it, it was like 5 days of work which I was committed to do, and then volunteering to put in a few more hours on the weekend with the 1 organization where I saw greater potential for change (compared to the other NGOs whom we were funding) – Thankfully they worked on Saturdays too and were able to accommodate me.

 

Later when I moved on from the NGO, I moved on from volunteering at the partner organization too.
Back on Facebook and spending countless productive hours surfing the pages (no sarcasm again!), I was introduced to an initiative where a group of young guys would gather together at one place, get good fresh food in bulk from one of the nearby Dhabas and then share the food with the less privileged. This sounded cool, and I decided to join in for the same.

Given the initiative aimed to share food including Khamiri Roti and Mutton Korma, it was sure to be the ‘One great meal’ of the week for the guys whom the initiative aimed to provide for. The initiative was not targeting the same people again and again, and was open to anyone (kids, women, men – young/old/differently abled) who did not have access to such food, but happened to be in the vicinity on that day.

We did this for a few weeks, and later when I happened to meet Mrs. Lekha Srivastava, Exec Director, ISF around that time, I mentioned that there was this initiative being undertaken by a few guys where we bought food in bulk and then gave it away. The first question she asked me was “Why are you paying for this? You should be tying up with the eateries so that you can help route/ distribute the excess food which remains, to the needy!”

 

For some reason, the question stayed with me, and the point came up repeatedly if and when I would be catching up with someone in the Hospitality industry, and the topic of excess food came up. Some of the points which came up from such discussions:
 

  1.  A single day’s leftover food from one five star hotel in a Metro is sufficient enough to feed at least 300 people – This was a statement from someone who was in the Hospitality industry and working with 5 star hotels!
  2. No hotel ever gives away leftover food for charity because of hygiene and safety being a major issue. It is straight away incinerated or dumped at common dumping places.
  3. When thinking across different food categories (Milk products are best avoided given out) and exploring possibilities wherein whether it was possible for the hotels have a partnership/ tie-up with other social organizations to take care of this, and wherein this network could then ensure that food reaches them in the right condition; the feedback was that it was not easy at all to keep this quantity of food safe till midnight or the next day.
  4. There are concerns around the food being delivered in the right condition, state and time. There was very much a possibility that it could make the hungry kids sick.
  5. There was the concern that some people might misuse this, and also look at it as a means to make money. So hotels try and play safe by not giving anyone a chance to say anything which might go against them.
  6. The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI), which is into a lot of charitable deeds and events could help take such ideas forward – it all had to be coordinated though.

 

Now, from a consumer point of view, we have all had instances wherein we have consumed stuff over a couple of days (provided we keep them simply refrigerated until further use), and lived to tell the tale.

All said and done, every once in a while this would pop into my mind when I would be sitting in Cafe’s looking at the processed food, and wondering to self how much more time there was before one would have to dispose them off. Trying to think from putting yourself into the shoes of an entrepreneur who might be in the Hospitality Sector didn’t help things much either! This was until yesterday, when I tripped on this interesting video which seems to be going viral all over Social Media.

 

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The Curious Case of ‘Outliers’ & the Pursuit of Excellence – I

In Building Culture, Management, Marketing, People Management, Self Awareness, Strategy on January 16, 2012 at 22:23

 
Having your flight delayed by a couple of hours can ‘sometimes’ truly be a blessing in disguise. A couple of weeks ago, on my way back home after vacations and when faced with this predicament, I did what I usually don’t do to counter these kind of situations – buy a book!

Those of you who know me are well aware that I usually do not buy books, for the simple reason that most of the times it’s just skim reading, going through the book (fiction/ non-fiction/ other classifications out there in the universe) and taking away 2-3 key concepts that stay with me. I might return to revisit a few concepts now and then, but am not exactly in love with the idea of ‘rereading’ books.

To cut a long-story short, I managed my way into the inhouse (or is it in-airport?!) bookstore, and the first book that caught my eye also happened to be the one I bought – The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  It had been recommended a few times on some LinkedIn forums and by some of my peers; plus having read Malcolm’s earlier work ‘The Tipping Point’ in 2011, it seemed like a good enough choice.

The brilliant book that Outliers is, when one starts thinking of the theories given therein,  it opens up a world of possibilities in terms of their applications to the real world. Taking forward some of the learning, in this post I intend to share what most people know works beautifully in teams, but never knew why – Having a flat organization structure and the payoffs of being approachable.

The Power Distance Index (PDI)

 
So what would your reaction be if Malcolm Gladwell told you that there was a ‘direct’ correlation between the number of plane crashes and the place from where the pilots belonged. Sounds crazy right? Wrong. Read more on this by clicking here.

A section of Outliers builds on the concept of the ‘Power Distance Index’ (PDI) which is an interesting theory (amongst the 6 Dimensions of national culture) put forth by Geert Hofstede, and which looks at how much a culture values hierarchical relationships and how individuals within that culture interact with authority. The implications of PDI when applied to plane crashes are powerful enough to make you stop reading midway and think as to how this augurs for the different businesses across the globe.

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Getting the best from others: Where does one start? – II (The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’)

In Building Culture, Management, People Management, Strategy on January 3, 2012 at 22:15

 
Almost a year back I had written a post on “Getting the best from your team: Where does one start? – I” where I had explored a couple of ideas that a startup had applied towards building a great motivated team.

The year 2011 has been a great one in terms of meeting different people and getting to learn a lot via interaction as well as via plain ol’ observation. Just a couple of weeks back, whilst I had the fabulous opportunity to interact with Tan Yinglan, and we all were in Bengaluru along with a colleague’s friends from the city, the banter drifted to the topic of performance appraisals at a well known global IT firm – easier said than done!

During the 5 minutes or so that the group was discussing the general concerns of people & performance in huge organizations, my mind drifted back to something I had learned during the first 6 months of my work life, and which I have now fondly named “The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’.”
 

The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’

 
This started out as a funny concept which I observed whilst I had just started working right out of college, but one which has started making more and more sense over the years. Whilst it is ‘relatively easier’ to gauge and manage people strengths and weaknesses when working in smaller organizations, it becomes more and more complex as the organization scales up; more so when we start thinking of organizations where we have 500-1000+ employees (we have a good number of firms flaunting these kind of numbers in their workforce).

In an organization, people can generally be classified under the following quadrants:

The Workforce ‘Three Quadrant Quandary’
For ease of understanding, +1 indicates a positive display of the characteristic (Knowhow/ Showhow) whereas 0 denotes a lack of the same.

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Quad I: +1 Knowhow, +1 Showhow

These are the visible S.T.A.R.S. in your organization. They know the work, and (a) they are smart enough to let others know about their genuine efforts or (b) they are lucky enough to be recognized for their genuine efforts.

These are the ones who will keep taking your organization to the next level(s) as long as you keep providing them with right opportunities that help them grow, and which gives them a sense of achievement. Work on them, groom them for the next level (as they become intrapreneurs)… and needless to say, please make it a point to make sure you put in your efforts to retain them!

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